Notes from the Sandy Alderson press conference

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The Mets just introduced Sandy Alderson as their new general manager a short while ago. A few items of interest…

  • It’s true, Alderson slipped up and began to say Oakland when describing the Mets’ GM job as the “best job in baseball.” A rough start, but it didn’t take him long to melt my nerd heart.
  • When describing his own personal philosophy, Alderson said: “The mathematics, I don’t believe, lie.” He believes metrics like on-base percentage and slugging are important in valuing a player. Also places an emphasis on speed and power. *ears perking up*
  • In talking about the team’s farm system, Alderson views the Mets somewhere in the middle of the pack. He doesn’t believe a large-market team like the Mets should ever be in the middle of the pack in player development. I wonder if his relationship with the commissioner’s office may influence his willingness to go overslot in the draft, but I sure hope there are at least some changes there.
  • Alderson said he has no plans “in the immediate future” to change the dimensions of Citi Field.
  • In regards to hiring a new manager, Alderson specifically said he wasn’t opposed to a “fiery” manager, reflecting the emotions of the fanbase, but also wants a manager to be analytical and intuitive. While he wants this person to have a independence on the field, that individual must also reflect the general philosophy of the organization. In other words, while Wally Backman may get an interview, don’t look for Bobby V to return. Knowing Sandy, that is to be expected.
  • Responding to a question about some of the dead weight on the roster — specifically Oliver Perez and Luis Castillo — Alderson said that in some instances he will make decisions, in others he will make recommendations (to ownership). He also isn’t willing to write off any asset just because of public opinion.
  • When asked if 2011 will be a “caretaker year,” Alderson said he plans to put the best possible team on the field, even with the limited payroll flexibility. He hopes to put the Mets in the position where they can be aggressive in the market every offseason, but doesn’t see that happening this winter.

There’s a lot to digest here, but my first impression is a very positive one. Alderson came across as very intelligent, thoughtful and frankly, inspiring. Mets fans have become cynical over the past few seasons, but there’s a real reason for optimism about the team’s long-term plan this afternoon.

A.J. Hinch: “We’ll use every pitcher in Game 7 if we have to”

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It’s not entirely clear why the Astros threw Ken Giles into the ninth inning of Game 6 of the ALCS. With a six-run advantage and the bottom half of the Yankees’ lineup due up, pushing the series to its seven-game capacity looked like a sure bet. Giles may be one of Houston’s better bullpen arms, but he’s not their only option, and it would have made more sense to keep him fresh for a do-or-die Game 7 on Saturday night.

Of course, there’s no such thing as a sure bet when it comes to postseason baseball. That’s more or less what Astros’ manager A.J. Hinch had to say after the game, telling reporters that he had envisioned a quick three outs from his closer as they tried to pull back from the brink of elimination. “We didn’t have the luxury of limping into that inning,” Hinch said. “We’ve seen how these guys can explode in these innings.”

It’s not difficult to recall the Yankees’ explosive drive in the eighth inning of Game 4, when they exploited the holes in Houston’s ‘pen and evened the series with Gary Sanchez‘s go-ahead double off of Giles. Back home in Minute Maid Park, however, there was a slightly different feel to the eighth and ninth innings of Game 6. Jose Altuve led off the eighth with a solo home run, followed by Alex Bregman‘s two-run double and Evan Gattis‘ sac fly. In the ninth, Giles labored through a 23-pitch outing to lock down the win, handing out a base hit and a seven-pitch walk before eventually whiffing Chase Headley on three straight pitches for the last out.

So, while Hinch’s decision to lean on Giles in Game 6 may have felt wasteful, his concerns were not entirely unfounded. He’s prepared to roll with the same strategy during Saturday’s series finale, too, leaving nothing on the table as the Astros battle for their first World Series showdown since 2005. According to Dallas Keuchel, that means all hands on deck — except for Justin Verlander, whose four wins, 24 strikeouts and 1.46 postseason ERA have gotten the Astros as far as he could possibly be expected to take them. “No pitcher is going to be in the dugout,” said Keuchel. “They’re all going to be in the bullpen, myself included. Any way we can help out, we’re trying to get to the World Series, the same way the Yankees are, and that’s a nice feeling to have.”

Does that mean Giles will be available for a Game 7 appearance? Stranger things have happened. Joe Sheehan notes that the right-hander has pitched in back-to-back days 13 times this year, though he’s never thrown as many as 23 pitches on Day 1. Granted, he likely doesn’t have enough left in the tank for another 20+ pitch run on Saturday, but with the World Series on the line, any help he can offer will be invaluable.